A NEW YEAR AGAIN
My father and I live in the same home in Southwest Florida. My father as of this writing is 98 years old. I’m his caretaker. I had no idea I would end up being a caretaker. I don’t mind too much. There are days it’s a joy. There are days he is a challenge. And some days seem to slip by without much fanfare one way or the other. But this post is not about me. It’s about him. Well, yes, it’s about me too.
You see, people ask. “How’s your dad doing.” What do I say? One day he is good, and the next day he’s a challenge? So, in order to sidestep the question, I ask if I can send a weekly picture. No need to respond. Family, church people, and others who just want to know. It’s not a problem, one simple photograph, once a week. Sometimes I take a photograph with my cell phone. And sometimes I use my point and shoot. In fact, it’s pretty much the same photograph each week. I usually don’t write words under the picture. The picture speaks for its self. It lets the email list know “things are normal.”
One week, for some reason, I sent a picture without the pancake. The pancake was missing, the hole in the middle of the pancake was also missing from the picture. Usually, no one responds to the weekly photograph. The emails came in with, “WHERE IS THE PANCAKE?” “WHERE IS THE HOLE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PANCAKE?”
I learned a valuable lesson. You see, I realized the hole in dad’s pancake is a secret coded message. If the hole in the middle of the pancake is missing, it’s a subliminal message that life in southwest Florida is under an oppressive dictatorial regime. Like maybe the Home Owners Association here in Magnolia Landing wants to be in total control. (Which they are, much to the chagrin of some of some homeowners.) But, I digress, the Magnolia Landing HOA is a different story.
So, now I make sure I send a photograph of Dad with a pancake with a hole in the middle. But come on, after a while, there has got to be more to life than a pancake with a hole in the middle.
Yes, for the last several months he has wanted nothing but a pancake for his supper. Night after night I heat up a pan, I mix pancake batter with milk. I pour the mixture into a hot frying pan. It takes about three minutes for air bubbles to show on the surface of the pancake batter. Then I flip it over. In about a minute the pancake is ready to be served. I noticed he was “picking” at the pancake and wasn’t eating all of his pancakes. Night after night, he was eating only about half of the pancake. So, I asked him why.
“I guess I just don’t taste it anymore.”
The next night I asked what he wanted for supper. He told me the same thing he had the night before. I opened the refrigerator and looked for the milk. Right next to the milk was a carton of eggnog by Southern Comfort I had purchased for myself. I pulled both containers out of the fridge. I mixed the Aunt Jemima batter with half milk and half eggnog. I put my little finger in the mixture for a taste. Wow, that tastes pretty good. I may have to fix myself a pancake with Southern Comfort eggnog. He ate almost all of the pancake that night. By the way, it takes longer to cook a pancake with eggnog than with milk. And the pancake is heavier.
The next night, I asked again, “What do you want for supper?”
“Just like last night.”
I pulled the milk and the eggnog. I mixed in the milk and a little less eggnog this time. But the formula was still a bit too thick. I decided to mix in a little more milk. But I hesitated and looked at the counter behind me. I had an assortment of adult beverage. Do I dare hit the batter with a shot of something with real taste?
I had a bottle of Fireball Cinnamon flavored Whisky sitting there looking at me. I took the cap off the bottle and hit the batter with about a half once of the Fireball. I mixed the Fireball and the Southern Comfort eggnog into pancake batter and hoped it would taste all right. Yes, I put my little finger in the recipe for a quick taste, and I thought it was fantastic.
Dad went through the pancake like a chainsaw through a mature pine tree. He even asked for an ice cream cup after the pancake. I haven’t told many people what I had added to his pancake. But I did hear from my attorney and very close friend in Indianapolis, John Q Herrin. When I noticed his email message I thought for sure, I was in big legal trouble.
“STEVE, When I’m your father’s age, I just hope my kids lace my pancake batter with a shot of Southern Comfort and Fireball.”